Bob Harris has opened a new front in the psychological war surrounding tomorrow’s South Yorkshire derby at Oakwell, writes James Shield.
The Sheffield United defender, speaking ahead of their visit to Barnsley, told The Star that knowing the outcome could have a crucial bearing on the race for the League One play-offs will inspire Nigel Clough’s side.
United have reached the semi-finals of both major domestic knockout competitions since Clough’s appointment last term and Harris said: “People have mentioned we raise our games on the big occasion. The cup ties have been like that and Barnsley will be the same.
“The cup games have helped us with that. We’re the underdogs usually and there’s good football played.
“You don’t always get that in League One, it can be more of a scrap, with teams getting men behind the ball and trying to be difficult to break down. I’m sure the fans can see that.”
United count Southampton and Queens Park Rangers among their victims this season. They also held Tottenham Hotspur to a 2-2 draw in the second leg of their Capital One Cup semi-final three months ago before beating runaway leaders Bristol City at Ashton Gate.
Harris, who distanced himself from claims that fifth-placed United will adopt a safety first approach, added: “Against bigger teams or in the bigger games, the opposition tends to come at us a bit more. With the attacking players we’ve got here, we can exploit the gaps.”
Barnsley are eighth and poised to include goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith, signed on loan from Sheffield Wednesday, in their starting eleven as manager Lee Johnson attempts to bridge the five point gap between his squad and United.